Medical Advocates for Healthy Air (MAHA) is standing with medical and public health professionals to call climate change what it really is: a health emergency. In June, MAHA joined with over 70 other medical and public health groups to endorse "The Call to Action on Climate, Health and Equity: A Policy Action Agenda".
MAHA has worked extensively to educate medical and health professionals about the health risks of climate change and related air pollution issues, and are also working with health sector leaders to develop campaigns that inform the public about climate health impacts.
North Carolina has one of the highest heat-related death rates in the country. This past summer's record-breaking temperatures exposed many workers to unsafe working conditions. Yet while the climate crisis will only intensify this hazard, U.S. workers lack basic protections against excessive heat in their workplace. MAHA joined with nearly 100 health, environmental, and community organizations to support legislation that will protect workers during life-threatening heat waves. The proposed Asunción Valdivia Heat Illness and Fatality Prevention Act directs the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to set standards on preventing excessive heat in the workplace.
MAHA also partnered with Natural Resources Defense Council to shine a light on how this climate-driven health crisis impacts North Carolina. NRDC produced a video (below) featuring several health professionals, including MAHA Advisory Board member Candace Cahoon, discussing the serious health impacts of extreme heat.
Florida Clinicians for Climate Action (FCCA) is collaborating on a program for health care systems and hospitals on Dec 3.
FCCA is excited to partner with Healthcare without Harm to co-present at this upcoming webinar for Florida Hospital Association (membership not required to register).
Hospital Sustainability Collaborative Webinar Series | Webinar 2: Engage and Retain Employees
December 3, 2019, 1:00pm - 2:00PM ET
Health care systems and hospitals can advance their mission of protecting human health by engaging employees and involving them in solutions to address climate change. During this session, there will be a review of many different ways to engage employees around climate and health through the work of: the Florida Clinicians for Climate Action, Health Care Without Harm’s Physician Network, the Nurses Climate Challenge, and Practice Greenhealth’s “Green Employee Benefit” program, which provides health systems with meaningful opportunities to engage employees on low cost or no cost strategies to promote climate change solutions. Providing incentives and programming to employees to improve the health of their homes, families and friends is a way to extend the “culture of caring” beyond the walls of the organization.
Ankush Bansal, MD, FACP, Co-Chair, Florida Clinicians for Climate Action
Jason Bell, Assistant Vice President of Operations, Baptist Health South Florida
Shanda Demorest, DNP, RN-BC, PHN, Member Engagement Manager, Practice Greenhealth
FCCA named partner in Climate, Health & Equity Planning Grant
The Florida Clinicians are working with grassroots organizations in Miami-Dade on a one-year planning grant to address climate, health, and equity. The Kresge Climate Change, Health, and Equity Initiative grant will support a collaborative planning process for strengthening efforts by Miami-Dade County’s low-wealth communities to achieve transformative, systems-oriented change for those most at risk of worsening socio-economic disparities due to climate change.
FCCA will be partnering with multiple organizations, including the lead organization, Catalyst, as well as FIU NeighborhoodHELP, the FIU Sea Level Solutions Center, the Miami Foundation and the CLEO Institute.
Together, we will identify a community-driven challenge and associated theory of change in order to achieve greater climate resilience and health equity.
Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate (HPHC) is engaging in climate action in Minnesota. In August, HPHC submitted a written statement to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) calling for funds from the 2016 settlement with Volkswagen to be spent on electrifying the school bus fleet; the statement details the negative health impacts of diesel emissions on children.
Throughout August and September, HPHC members attended and gave statements at town hall meetings with state legislators. HPHC marched with an affiliate group, Health Students for a Healthy Climate, at the Youth Climate Strike on Sept. 20 and signed the Medical Excuse Note spearheaded by Healthcare Without Harm. On Sept. 28, members joined other climate justice organizations to support Indigenous communities at the Gichi-Gami Gathering, a rally and march against the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline replacement project. HPHC members also participated in a successful phone campaign to urge the MPCA agency to deny a water quality permit to Enbridge for this project. This was a key victory in the pipeline resistance movement
HPHC was on the front lines of supporting a major climate policy rollout on Sept. 25: Governor Walz’s Clean Cars Minnesota initiative, which seeks to establish cleaner vehicle emissions standards to reduce air pollution and increase access to electric vehicles. HPHC contributed a statement for the initial press release announcing the initiative, participated in the social media campaign to augment the message, and will continue to provide the health care voice in support of this process. HPHC remains committed to educating health professionals and the public about the impacts of climate change on health, with presentations in October to professional organizations such as the Minnesota Nurses Association and the Minnesota chapter of the American College of Physicians.
HPHC developed a course for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute entitled “Climate Change: What Every Senior Needs to Know” that will run weekly from Oct 10 – Nov 21st. HPHC is in the midst of organizing a major conference for health professionals, “Code Blue for Patient Earth: Pathways to a Secure Future” to be held on April 4, 2020.
Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action (VCCA): Since early summer, VCCA has carried out a wide range of initiatives aimed at educating health professionals and the public about the links between climate and health.
This work is happening against the backdrop of statewide elections coming up next month (November) – when all members of the state’s General Assembly are up for election or re-election.
The major announcements on climate policies with Virginia’s Governor Northam’s Executive Order that announced a reduction in the Commonwealth’s carbon emissions increase in the state’s goals to 30% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% carbon-free by 2050. Dominion Energy, the largest power supplier, also announced its intention to build the nation’s largest offshore wind farm off the coast of Virginia.
VCCA is mobilizing the health community to play a vital role in being a part of and shaping these policy developments in a way that will improve the health of our patients and our communities. See below for a summary of recent activities over the past couple of months.
Clinicians Climate Challenge
This summer, VCCA launched our Clinician Climate Challenge campaign. The primary goal of the initiative is to educate and enlist at least 150 new health professionals into our network advocating for climate change solutions that protect the health of Virginians. In order to do this, VCCA hosted an online webinar and more importantly delivered more than a dozen in-person presentations in different clinical settings – bringing the issue of climate change to the participants’ place of employment to help connect the dots.
This initiative helped expand our geographic diversity in the state and find new clinicians who will be involved with our work moving forward.
In-district August Recess Meetings
With Members of Congress in their home districts during the month of August, VCCA organized 12 separate meetings with staff from offices of Virginia-based Representatives and Senators. These meetings were held to educate Congressional staff members on climate and health and to introduce them to VCCA and the growing movement of health professionals in Virginia who are concerned about how climate change is affecting the health of their patients.
VCCA produced a PSA-style video this Summer which was released in late September. The video highlights some Virginia-specific climate and health statistics and encourages civic participation by contacting local candidates running for office this November.
VCCA worked with Carilion Clinic, Virginia Tech University, and Health Care Without Harm to plan and execute a full-day conference titled “Health in a Changing Climate” in early October. The keynote speaker was the Chief Deputy Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Health. This was the fourth conference of this kind that VCCA has organized or helped organize and it brought together more than 60 health care professionals (who received CME credit) to hear from experts on a range of climate and health topics and learn how they could take part in solutions to the health emergency caused by climate change.
Media Education/research, advocacy, and community outreach are the three pillars of VCCA’s work. Much of our community outreach efforts center around speaking out through the media. From July to September, VCCA members authored or were prominently featured in eight different media articles that can be found on our website.
The Montana Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate (MHPHC) was incorporated as a 501(c)3 in 2019 to promote the health of Montanans through education, science, advocacy, and action. Health professionals from all disciplines are encouraged to join. The Montana Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics, agreed to ally with the group.
Major newspapers throughout Montana published op-eds from members regarding the US Call to Action in June.
MHPHC is working closely with Climate Smart Montana, a new group focused on providing resources to municipalities on climate mitigation/adaptation. At the state level, members are helping write the Health Section of the Montana Climate Assessment.
The official launch is this month, with a press release, letters of introduction, and an op-ed planned. Plans are to publish e-newsletters bimonthly but the initial focus is on growing the membership. Public speaking, education of the health community, and legislative advocacy are important current and future actions.
Dr. Megan Malgeri, a family medicine physician, from Milton VT spoke at the state's largest Climate Strike rally on September 20th. Speaking before several thousand people, Dr. Malgeri echoed the words of Greta Thunberg as she called on Vermonters to start pushing the state's lawmakers. While many think of Vermont as a leader in the fight against climate change, the reality is that the state's greenhouse gas emissions have risen by 16% since 1990. Dr. Malgeri focused on the impacts of climate change on health as she pointed out straightforward and quick steps that Vermonters can take to change the conversation. (You can read an op-ed by Dr. Malgeri here: Join Children in Demanding Climate Change Action). With that speech as a launching point, VTCHA has been very active in pushing Vermonters to contact top lawmakers. For example, check out www.vtcha.org/speakup.
On Oct 9th, Karen McKenny (cardiology nurse/educator) participated in a panel discussion at Castleton University with Bill McKibben, State Representative Robin Chestnut Tangerman, and Beatrice Parwatikar (NAACP). The panel focused on the intersections of climate change, public health, communities of color, and public policy. The panel was pleased to take many questions from the audience of students and community members.
VTCHA member Dr. David Rand was one of the speakers at a press conference on Tuesday, January 14, announcing the 2020 VT Climate Action Plan (www.actonclimatevt.org/) The plan was endorsed by a very broad coalition of more than 30 organizations. It's not the final answer, but it's a great start on what we need to do to finally start tackling this problem in a way that will protect the most vulnerable Vermonters, create jobs, and ensure we leave a healthy planet for future generations.
As David said during the event, "the time for inaction and trying to protect the status quo is over." Join us in speaking up! (www.vtcha.org/speakup)
Wisconsin Health Professionals for Climate Action (WHPCA) is a new group dedicated to leveraging the trusted voice of health professionals to shift policy toward creating a healthier climate. WHPCA is part of the Medical Consortium on Climate and Health as one of the state chapters. WHPCA is comprised of health professionals from across the spectrum united in our passion for sustainable medicine and a desire to decarbonize the industry, one responsible for a significant portion of carbon emissions worldwide.
WHPCA is in the early stages of development and the short term goals are recruitment and preparing for a kick off Climate and Health Conference on November 16th. This conference will bring together health professionals from across the state along with others working in the area of climate mitigation and adaptation. The purpose of the conference is primarily educational but it will also include interactive sessions allowing the audience to ask questions about various topics related to the climate crisis from experts in those areas. There will be a media training session teaching the audience how to effectively communicate climate and health science to patients and the lay public, and a brainstorming session where attendees can figure out ways to address this massive and urgent problem in a multi-disciplinary manner.
There is a reason dozens of medical organizations have called the climate crisis an ongoing, global public health emergency. Health professionals are bound by their training to safeguard the health and well-being of our patients and the climate crisis will be the biggest challenge our public health infrastructure has ever faced. As such, the mission of decarbonizing the healthcare industry and society at large matches perfectly with our mission as health professionals.
WHPCA believes that amplifying the message that the climate crisis as an ongoing public health emergency, one already supported by dozens of medical organizations, is the most effective way to steer public discourse to a healthier, more sustainable future for our patients and all of humankind.